Sheikh it up

Return of the Sheiks: What next for Somalia and the United Arab Emirates?

By Loza Seleshie

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Posted on June 24, 2022 00:47

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheik Mohamud return to office after five years out of power has shaken up Somali politics and geopolitics of the Horn. But, Hassan is not the only one making a return to Mogadishu. After withdrawing aid and military cooperation in 2018, the United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) – backed by Saudi Arabia – has slowly been mending ties with Mogadishu. What will this mean for Somalia? And what are the implications for the Horn?

The last time Hassan Sheik Mohamud was president (2012-2017), the wider Horn and global dynamics were quite different. Covid was unheard of, the repercussions of the Arab Spring were still being felt and the world was just beginning to deal with then US president Donald Trump. Now, leaders have to deal with Russia’s war in Ukraine, a civil war in Ethiopia and growing concerns about global economic growth.

The reform agenda

Emerging from a tough race, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh has a long list of economic, institutional, security and diplomatic reforms he wants to introduce.

Despite making progress on the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt-relief programme, the previous government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’ faced a “triple shock” : Covid, extreme flooding and a locust invasion. Though the African Development Bank projects 3% GDP growth for 2022, the

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